Anyone Still Making a "Good" Living Who ONLY Shoots Film?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by jon_kobeck|1, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. I know this probably belongs in the business section, but over there I fear would mostly be digital shooters.
    I am just curious; are there many left who are making a decent full time living out of just shooting film, or has all the
    commercial work gone to the digital folks?
  2. It's been a long time since I made a full-time living out of photography but I would have imagined that, if anybody, people like this
    would have stuck with film. But no - even he went digital 5 years ago. So I would think the answer to the question "How many full-time pros shoot only digital?" is "Zero" - I am certain there are quite a few who shoot film and digital (e.g. wedding photogs shooting both formal and reportage-style pictures) and alternative-printing-process types I am sure shoot LF film to allow contact printing, but by and large digital is the industry standard and film is for enthusiasts and those (art photographers and others) deliberately seeking the occasional retro look.
  3. It's hard to think of any full-time commercial photographers shooting film. Fine art guys like John Sexton, Alan Ross and Clyde Butcher shoot film, but I suspect the bulk of their income is from the sale of prints and leading workshops, not shooting photos for clients.
  4. david_henderson


    Don't know whether Christopher Burkett will be earning what he'd call a good living. His work hasn't moved on at all, he's got a fairly limited market, and he doesn't seem as prominent and as often exhibited as once he did.
    Meanwhile I think Michael Kenna still works exclusively on film albeit that he's said that his commercial work is in decline because he doesn't shoot digital "yet". I'd be surprised if in that context several of the "school of Kenna" photographers hadn't stayed with film too, though I do note that Josef Hoeflehner sells some inkjet prints. I think Roman Lorenc still uses film exclusively. And whilst I can't tell you I'm ever certain about Michael Fatali, its possible that he's 100% film for shooting albeit that some of his prints are now Lightjets (typically he eschews the "lightjet" word and uses the term "Illumachromes" to describe his digital prints.
    But all these guys are "art" rather than "commercial" orientated. I do suspect that its getting quite difficult to get commercial work on film (as Kenna has said) and you can imagine that the retouching/repro etc cycle completely revolves around digital.
  5. David, I think you mean"How many full time pros shoot only film" don't you? It's not quite zero - this guy still shoots film and prints in a conventional darkroom.
    Well spotted, that man! You win this week's star prize of a roll of Verichrome Pan dated 1963 (a very good year). :)
  6. David H, I had completely forgotton about Michael Fatali! Mind you, I can't remember the last time I saw a new image from him - most of his stuff is years old.
  7. david_henderson


    David. There will be some that will say that forgetting Fatali is no bad thing. Agree that his work ( or his style) have not moved on.
  8. Spike Bell and his Hasselblad's:
  9. By the way, if any of you have seen Christopher Burkett's prints in person, that should, or would change any Dvf debate. His stuff is mind blowing.
  10. OK I will add a few to the list that I'm surprised no one has mentioned:

    Todd Hido

    Hiroshi Watanabe

    Ken Rosenthal

    All MF film shooters. My guess is they do no commercial work and earn most of their income through
    fine art book sales.
  11. Don, I have seen Christopher Burkett's work in the flesh, so to speak, and I agree with you - thay are mind blowing. As of course, are the prices!
  12. david_henderson


    I've seen Burkett's prints several times in Oregon and yes, they are very nice. But they aren't a class ahead of everyone else's IMO- not a game changer for me, in that they don't get me thinking that the best of analogue prints are clearly better than the best digitally made prints.
  13. According to the Feb issue of Popular Photography David Fokos shoots 8x10, but he scans and post processes the digital files. Don't know much about his work other than a quick perusal of his site, but he seems to be doing well enough. Got the cover shot anyway.
  14. Jonathan Leder shot his "Jacques" magazine on film and still shoots fashion and editorial on 35mm and instant. NSFW material.
  15. "Only" film?<br>One single picture taken on film by Gursky fetched over 4 million dollars alone. A bit photoshopped as well, true.<br>Gursky himself wasn't the seller, but no worries about the amount of money he collected when he first sold it to the museum. Talk about making a good living... ;-)
  16. This guy still does:
  17. Not all photographers shooting digital make "good" living (whatever "good" is), but I would agree that those shooting film are more likely to make a good living from fine art photography than from other commercial photography where the digital system is much more convenient and efficient. Film photography (and darkroom black and white printing) generally requires more time and is thus compatible with reflective fine art approaches (although no more so than digital photography).
    Unfortunately, to make a decent living in fine art is not at all easy, as the market is limited and not quite as bouyant as that for other commercial photography. As a relatively unknown and part time film and print photographer, responding to my own targeted subjects, I seldom sell more than 15 small (12 x 16 inch) prints per year (at only $200 per). Fine art photography, including black and white, requires the creative approach of an artist, as well as that of a technically proficient photographer and darkroom worker, if it is to result in a good living.
  18. I'm a travel and landscape pro and use film only, however I don't make a "good living" at it. Nearly all of my customers no longer accept film images and have moved to digital submissions. I had no choice but to convert my best work to digital to stay in the game. I kind of like the look of Velvia 100f, Velvia 50 and Velvia 100. I feel it is more about my ability than the capture type I use but my customers don't agree with that sentiment.
  19. I don't know if he is really a full time pro, but Ian Cameron only shoots film:
    Here is his website: (See "The Photographer" for information about his equipment).
  20. Seeing the site of Ian Cameron that Heiko refers to is revealing of what is necessary to succeed in fine art photography, with film or with digital, or a mix of the two. Fine technique, a high level of understanding and application of colour and aesthetics, a concentration on obtaining top quality results, a professional website, publishing of books for greater personal visibility to clients, availability to others for workshops (several participants) and master classes (1 on 1), personal control of print quality, are just some of the elements required.
    While he uses film, Mr. Cameron uses digital output to print (and presumably some post exposure balancing or modification of scanned images) and takes care to provide differing high quality papers depending upon the desired print quality and longevity of the viewer/buyer. He accompanies the viewer to his website in a natural and collaborative manner. I get the sense that he is full time and fully concentrated on his photography and it is probably that and a dedication to excellence that makes film + digital photography work for him.
    I would be very surprised if he doesn't make a good living from this (concentrated and no doubt quite demanding of time and energy) activity. It is much more concentrated than what I do in a much more humble manner and on a very part time basis. I don't think the factor of whether he uses film + digital, or digital alone, makes much difference to the probable success of Mr.Cameron
  21. I've heard Stephen Spielberg (director) prefers film and a few other Hollywood directors won't go digital also. Something to consider as well as the photographic aspect.
  22. Last time I saw a documentary on Anton Corbjin he was still photographing bands like U2 with a film Hasselblad and some 35mm. He seems to make a pretty decent living from it.
  23. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    Yeah my pension is paying me to shoot film more now than I ever in all my working years.... loving it too!
  24. And let's not forget Bill Cunningham:)
  25. "And let's not forget Bill Cunningham:)"
    Though he's still apparently on his bike in decent weather, I think he ditched his FM2 for digital some time ago:
  26. I am a full time news photographer and I do shoot commercial jobs once in a while. I can tell you that the main reason I use digital instead of film is the lower cost of digital images. Even if you use a medium format digital camera and back, the cost in time and instant results overwhelm any advantage film ever had. I have Hasselblad and Mamiya medium format cameras and I use them and have the negatives converted to digital images. costly, but sometimes necessary, especially if it costs less than renting the MF digital. I don't see film making a big comeback, especially if MF digital backs start coming down in cost.
  27. Surfed to the Jonathan canalas site. There are many young wedding photographers, primarily on the coasts, that use 120 film. Its a trend in some markets. Noticed all the particpants at his workshops were holding contax 645's. The hip new film wedding camera these days at workshops that does not even use leaf shutters!! I personally (words spoken as primarily a medium format guy) do not understand why any wedding shooter would shoot film unless it is simply to have a professional lab remove the headache of post processing. For low light I would think it would be absolutely necessary to use digital. Wedding photography in the wealthy large american big cities (NYC, SF, Portland, Boston, LA, Chicago etc) is very very trendy so perhaps using film has become a selling point in these current times of a "unique vision". Whatever works though with the paucity of emulsions currently available I would think it hard to distinguish yourself based on a perceived "film look". Just find the settings that work in digital and stick with them throughout the event. . However, if film becomes hip and its a selling point for these 6 figure wedding guys (i.e the hip wedding photographers.. not your average small town photographer.. unless u live in Sun Valley, Idaho or Aspen Colorado etc). These top wedding pro's just past the cost onto the client. Harder to do if you are in a market where the brides will not pay the extra cost.
    Todd Hido is a master of the color darkroom and one of my favorite photographers. Avant Fine art and very very successful. His prints sell for.. well I"m sure lots. An american gallery darling and an incredibly gifted artist. Few people who come to these forums even look at this type of "new topographic" photography so I am surprised but delighted to see him referenced here. Compare his work to the cibachrome guy in terms of the artistic vision. Hido continues to use the same 6x7 camera he had shot for over 20 years. His prints in person are a site to behold. Color negative never looked so brilliant. Last I read Todd still shoots film but has started to dabble in digital.
  28. How about (I am not sure about the amount of income with all of these, but they are all well known and respected photographers in their particular area of expertiece). Most of them are considered art photographers, here it is that I think most people still use film (the lab I work with prints analogue only for exhibitions and museums (they do have a durst printer for the occasional analogue print) I think probably 95% of their jobs are analogue work.
    Dana Lixenberg
    Jacqueline Hassink
    Bas Princen
    Geert Goiris
    Scarlett Hooft Graafland
    Massimo Vitali
    Elliot Wilcox
    Marleen Sleeuwits
    Peter Bialobrzeski
    Hans Christian Schink
    Bryan Schutmaat
    Matthias Hoch
  29. I iz confoozed. This thread seems to suggest if ya haven't heard of a guy or gal then he/she does not exist. There are MILLIONS of folks shooting photos for pay and a handful of names noted here means nothing. I know quite a few people who just shoot film and are doing okay. Housewives who shoot kids,cameramen who shoot visual arts works for publication, panoram photographers with film cameras 40 to 90 years old that no digital I have ever seen can match, "art" photographer who won't go near a digital camera or an ink jet printer to save their soul, nostalgia shooters who go into wet darakrooms ande produce old fashioned prints with the scalloped edges like the 1950s, TO NAME A FEW.
  30. Not a massive market and I don't make my living from it, but I do take B&W wedding photos for a few clients a year who want a different traditional look.
    I use the old wedding photographer standby of a Bronica ETRS and a Vivitar 283 'Light Machine' flash shooting on 120 Ilford film and printing on their paper too. Bog standard 24 or 36 shots for a wedding like the 'good ole days :)'
    I don't scan the negatives in and nothing gets within 10 paces of the Epson Photo printers I use. If you said it was my indulgent hobby you would probably be right but in public I would deny it most vehemently! Having said that I do seem to sell far more prints than I ever thought I would. Go figure.
  31. This guy might still be making money off film. He uses a Hasselblad and Fuji Velvia 50 film.
  32. Iv'e pretty much stopped taking new commercial clients because I am steadily working towards shooting nothing but black and white medium and large format film and hand crafting wet prints for fine art. So far sales are on track to become 50% of my annual income in my second year doing it.
    I use a tiny bit of film for commercial work but like I said, I am phasing that out as fast as I can as I want the rest of my work / career to be totally devoid of digital or computer anything.
    I would certainly consider a good living at it to be half of what I made in my best year ever, pre-economic crash.

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